Lasers used to cool GaAs substrates

July 3, 2008
Photoluminescent upconversion experiments have confirmed that laser cooling techniques can be applied to semiconductors.

Lasers are widely known for their use in industrial applications for cutting through steel, or for their potential as defensive weapons; they bring to mind powerful, visible, searing beams. It's less typical for lasers to connote cooling. But a team of researchers at Technische Universität Dortmund (Dortmund, Germany) and Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Valbonne, France) have used the "reverse" effect of laser cooling to cool semiconductor material.1

In this process, known as photoluminescence up-conversion, the frequency of the laser beam is carefully chosen so that the irradiated material does not absorb light, but rather relinquishes some of its energy to the beam. The photons in the laser beam absorb some of the oscillation energy of the particles in the material (its "phonons"), reducing the temperature of the target (see While this cooling effect has been examined extensively in its application to atomic vapor and condensed matter, such as dye solutions and glass, its use with semiconductor materials had not been established.

In a paper published in Physical Review B, Soheyla Eshlaghi and colleagues revealed their discovery that the anti-Stokes photoluminescence (PL) used to cool the target is temperature dependent. The cooling efficiency of a laser increases as the temperature of the sample increases. Therefore, control of the sample temperature in concert with the laser wavelength will determine the optimal cooling efficiency.

The group also determined that the thickness of the gallium-arsenide layer, usually a few dozen atoms thick, can be designed to determine the amount of cooling. Because the quantum well structure can be created with the precision of one atomic layer, the cooling technology may someday have application in semiconductor-lasers. Not only could vibration-free cooling of semiconductors become practical, the laser diode generating the light may someday be used to effectively cool its own structure.

The study was carried out at the department of experimental physics, Technische Universität Dortmund, by Dr. Soheyla Eshlaghi, Wieland Worthoff, and Professor Dieter Suter, as well as professor of applied solid-state physics Andreas D. Wieck at Ruhr-Universität Bochum.


1. S. Eshlaghi et al., Physical Review B 77, 245317 (2008).

Related Laser Focus World articles:

Erbium is so cool

Innovative atom trap catches highly magnetic atoms

LASER COOLING: Optomechanical sensing gets very cool indeed

About the Author

Valerie Coffey-Rosich | Contributing Editor

Valerie Coffey-Rosich is a freelance science and technology writer and editor and a contributing editor for Laser Focus World; she previously served as an Associate Technical Editor (2000-2003) and a Senior Technical Editor (2007-2008) for Laser Focus World.

Valerie holds a BS in physics from the University of Nevada, Reno, and an MA in astronomy from Boston University. She specializes in editing and writing about optics, photonics, astronomy, and physics in academic, reference, and business-to-business publications. In addition to Laser Focus World, her work has appeared online and in print for clients such as the American Institute of Physics, American Heritage Dictionary, BioPhotonics, Encyclopedia Britannica, EuroPhotonics, the Optical Society of America, Photonics Focus, Photonics Spectra, Sky & Telescope, and many others. She is based in Palm Springs, California. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Melles Griot® XPLAN™ CCG Lens Series

March 19, 2024
IDEX Health & Science sets a new standard with our Melles Griot® XPLAN™ CCG Lens Series fluorescence microscope imaging systems. Access superior-quality optics with off-the-shelf...

Spatial Biology

March 19, 2024
Spatial Biology refers to the field that integrates spatial information into biological research, allowing for the study of biological systems in their native spatial context....

Fluorescent Protein Optical Imaging Considerations

March 19, 2024
What factors should you consider when your incorporate fluorescent proteins in an optical imaging application? Learn more.

Custom-Engineered Optical Solutions for Your Application

March 19, 2024
We combine advanced optical design and manufacturing technology, with decades of experience in critical applications, to take you from first designs to ongoing marketplace success...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!